Just One Thing

I confess to being something of a time management junkie. If someone has a system, I want to know about it because I cling to belief in a magic bullet. You know, the secret journal/app/diary that will magically enable me to do everything at once without once mussing my hair. Dream on!

It’s hardly news that most adults are too busy. Authors, while arguably worthy of being committed, are more overcommitted than most. Not only do most of us have day jobs and families, we have a creative life. On top of that, we have all the duties associated with being entrepreneurs. That fills up a timetable pretty fast—hence my interest in scheduling miracles.

I haven’t found one yet. What I have found is that trying too hard can cause paralysis. The longer the list, the less gets done because of overwhelm.

I came nose-to-nose with this phenomenon a few years ago when I was changing jobs, taking classes, and meeting writing deadlines. I froze up, unable to do much more than stare like a deer in the headlights. Needless to say, the longer I dithered, the worse I fell behind.

Out of self-defense, I created my one task system. Beyond going through the basic motions of the day, I had to accomplish one thing. Read one chapter of the text. Complete one exercise. Finish editing a certain number of pages. If I had just one job to focus on, there was a goal post I could realistically reach. If I made it, I could let myself off the hook and sleep well that night.

It was a simple but lifesaving discovery. Did that one thing accomplish enough? No, because my to-do list was endless. Yet it moved me forward and, as long as I inched along, I was no longer stuck. Somehow, that small amount of momentum got me through that rough patch with all deadlines met and assignments complete.

Why? The truth is, things happen one at a time. Workaholics like me don’t want to hear that, but it’s true.

So here’s the miracle cure: Focus on one thing. Just one. And then the next. And then the one after that. Quality of energy, rather than quantity of action, frequently wins the day.

NB: there is no app for that.

 

One thought on “Just One Thing

  1. Great advice. One thing at a time. Right now, it’s simply getting my first draft down. Day by day. Word by word, one step at a time. One job at a time.

    I’m in the happy zone – so that’s a good thing.

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